Nature is for beginners

So we live in Colorado now. It’s a gorgeous state. Nature is everywhere and with endless variety. The clean air beckons me outside every time I get near an open window. Before moving here I used to say I’m an outdoorsy person. But boy are these Coloradans intimidating. I’m not at their level.

There are people who own kayaks, snow shoes, climbing equipment, camping attachments to their cars, and so much more. I talked to someone today whose husband apparently owns dozens of specialized shoes. I’m still not sure the difference between walking and running shoes. I started feeling less like an outdoorsy person and more like a city slicker by comparing myself to those around me. But I’m here to declare that NATURE IS FOR BEGINNERS!

Hiking Sandals – Whatever works

Today as we were toddler hiking with friends I started going up a hill to find rocks to throw with my little one. As I took my first steps I heard a friend kindly state “wow, look at you go up that hill in the wrong shoes.” Now, I was wearing waterproof-ish gladiator sandals. Sure, they’ll let some dirt in, but they’re incredibly comfortable, not coming off and they have great grip. I proudly declare, these are hiking sandals! Ok, I’m going to try to stop declaring all the things, but it’s for our own good. This is not a high buy-in sport. You don’t need to buy all the stuff before you can enjoy yourself. Use what you have to start, buy up once you know what would make your time even better.

A small lake surrounded by trees sits just beyond a pair of feet in gladiator sandals crossed relaxed at the ankle.

Breathing is Hard – Enjoy the view

I’m not in shape. Stairs are hard enough to get up, let alone a mountain. Hiking sounds fun but also, terrifying. It’s easy to feel a wave of foreboding when I’m already sweating on the trek from my car to the trailhead. Break the belief that the only view is found at the top. The best view is wherever you need to rest, whether it’s a view of the distance or appreciating the blossoming cactus by the side of the trail.

A 2 year old in a bright yellow hat walks along a dirt trail in front of a view of a green field in front of pine trees with mountains in the distance.

Drive up – You don’t have to set a basecamp

It’s hard to get past the mentality of needing to hike from the bottom to the top of a mountain. I’m not sure where this belief really comes from, but it has been a deeply held one to work past. I have enjoyed myself most when I give myself permission to drive as far up the mountain as I can. If the car can get me most of the way, all the better. Of course I’m working on the mentality that enjoying nature does not equal using my time outdoors as a main point of exercise. The other day we parked while my toddler was still napping in the car and I enjoyed the gorgeous view from the parking lot. We didn’t end up even touching the trail. But I actually had a few moments of peace and beauty anyway. That’s enough. It was worth seeing.

A gravel parking lot sits next to a green field in front of a set of pine tree covered mountains. The sky is sunny with white fluffy clouds.

This Land is Our Land

I will likely never be the cover model for Patagonia, REI or similar inspirational outdoor brands. But unlike climbing up a cliff, I don’t need to be completely prepared to enjoy the beautiful world around me. There is no training required to sit in a field of grass. We can’t mess up at reading a book next to a creek. There is likely no wrong way to watch the wind rustle the leaves of the trees in the park. There is no better way to enjoy nature than through the eyes of a beginner. So let’s get out there and do it our way!

Selfie of a makeup free mid-30's woman on a rock above a beautiful view of the pine tree covered valley below. She's kinda sweaty, but don't mistake that for a tough hike. She just gets tired quickly.

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